Emancipation and History

The Return of Social Theory


Assessing critical theory today, José Maurício Domingues’ Emancipation and History focuses on the connection between history and emancipation, centering on the trends that structure modernity and may lead us beyond it. Classical and contemporary sociology and social theory are mobilized to recover a robust theory capable of going beyond recurrent empirical, and therefore weaker, perspectives in emancipatory thought. Collective subjectivity and social creativity, history and sociology, analytical concepts and trend-concepts, social existential questions, the role of equal freedom and of immanent critique, secularization, capitalism, the modern state, 'populism', the family and the meaning of citizenship, Marx, Weber, Bhaskar, Habermas, Laclau, Sousa Santos and Negri are topics and authors that stand out in the book.

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José Maurício Domingues, PhD in sociology (LSE), professor at IESP-UERJ, Brazil, author of Global Modernity, Development, and Global Civilization (Routledge, 2012), Latin America and Contemporary Modernity (Routledge, 2018), Modernity Reconstructed (University of Wales Press, 2006), Social Creativity, Collective Subjectivity and Contemporary Modernity (Macmillan/Saint Martin's Press, 2000) and Sociological Theory and Collective Subjectivity (MacMillan/Saint Martin's Press, 1995).


Chapter 1 – Vicissitudes and possibilities of critical theory today
Defining critical theory
Contemporary modernity
Renewing critique

Chapter 2 – Global modernity: levels of analysis and conceptual strategies
Levels of analysis
Middle-range analytical concepts
General analytical concepts
A trend-concept: secularization

Chapter 3 – Existential social questions, developmental trends and modernity
The problem
Existential social questions
Existential questions, developmental trends and modernizing moves
Final words

Chapter 4 – History, sociology and modernity
Historical sociology and sociological theory
Theory and mechanisms

Chapter 5 – Realism, trend-concepts and the modern state
Beyond empiricism (and critical realism)
The modern state and modern society
Collective subjectivity, mechanisms, modernization
Final words

Chapter 6 – Family, modernization and sociological theory
Two intertwined themes
Globalization and modernization
The family, the “dimensions” of social life and the “existential questions”

Chapter 7 – The basic forms of social interaction
Principles of organization, mechanisms of coordination
Principles of antagonism, mechanisms of opposition
Coordination, antagonism
Interactive inclinations
Bases of justification

Chapter 8 – The imaginary and politics in modernity: the trajectory of Peronism
Theoretical background
Historical Peronism
The Argentina of Kirchner and Fernández de Kirchner
The imaginary and politics in modernity

Chapter 9 – Critical social theory and developmental trends, emancipation and late communism
Capitalism, accumulation and communism
Contemporary alternatives
Tasks of critical theory – or late twentieth century communism

Researches and Graduate Students in the Social Sciences; social activists
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